Lately, as our funds have loosened up a bit and I am increasingly faced with choices about what to do with our money, I’m reminded how much simpler my life was when money was tight. Don’t get me wrong, life wasn’t easy, but it was simple. When you have no spare cash, your choices are limited and there is something mentally freeing about that. For all the worrying I did about how to get out of debt, I never had to worry about how to spend the money and I didn’t realize it at the time, but that worry is stressful too.
That is what I am faced with now. I know we can pay our bills every month, including the huge sum that will eventually pay off our past mistakes. The new trick is what to do after the bills are paid. For the first time, there is money left. It isn’t a lot, but it is enough that I have to decide what to do with it. My old impulse would be, “Free Money!” and I’d buy stuff with it. I use the word stuff purposely. It seems in the past I spent money on a lot of stuff. It may have been things someone wanted or we even thought we needed, but it was stuff none the less.
Now, because we had almost two years of buying nothing and selling everything, we have a lot less stuff and I kind of like it that way. So even though sometimes I’d love to run out and buy a new purse, or clothes for any one of us, or the latest kitchen or music gadget, I don’t. The new me, the aware and money-smart me stops and thinks and waits before she spends the money.
The new me, reworks budgets to increase some line items that were tight, like groceries and gas for the car. Then the new me figures out how to include short-term and long-term saving. The new me is AWARE of every penny that comes in and goes out and that makes every cent more meaningful. The new me still has to fight the old Spender-Me, but I do it by reminding myself that my life is full of less stuff and more thoughtful items and moments that I deeply appreciate.
My choices may be broader and the opportunities greater today than they were a year ago, but what I’m sticking with is keeping it simple, because that is never a bad idea.
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